Fire captain’s household awarded $2.7 million over deadly off-duty crash
The household of a Los Angeles County Fire Department captain was awarded $2.7 million final week by a jury that discovered each the late firefighter and Caltrans had been equally at fault in a 2019 collision between his Jeep and a dump truck.
On Jan. 23, 2019, Capt. Michael Shepard, 63, was off-duty when his Jeep hit the again of the truck round 11 a.m. on the 14 Freeway in Santa Clarita. He died that day, in keeping with a lawsuit his household filed in September 2019.
In courtroom paperwork, the state of California argued Shepard prompted the collision when he handed a Caltrans automobile that was a part of a sweeping operation on the freeway and didn’t verify to see whether or not it was clear when he merged lanes.
Several automobiles had been concerned within the sweeping operation in what was described in courtroom paperwork as a “moving closure” on the freeway. The automobiles saved far from each other as a result of they made frequent stops, in keeping with the state’s protection. The state additionally argued that Shepard was touring at a excessive velocity however didn’t specify what that velocity was when he rear-ended the dump truck.
Shepard’s household stated a Caltrans truck driver didn’t placed on his flashing lights when he stopped on the left shoulder and carpool lane to clear particles, in keeping with their grievance. Shepard’s daughter, Conni Billes; his widow, Catherine Shepard, and their son, Clint Shepard, sued the state, the California Department of Transportation, Caltrans driver Pedro Gonzalez Beltran and Herc Rentals Inc.
According to courtroom information, Shepard’s relations declined a $1.5-million settlement provide after they filed their lawsuit.
The household’s legal professional, Tal Rubin, stated the L.A. County Superior Court jury awarded the household damages for lack of love and companionship together with the stipulated quantity of misplaced revenue, which introduced the entire to $5.4 million. But the decision was lower in half, to $2.7 million, as a result of the jury discovered Shepard was additionally at fault within the deadly collision.
“Although Mr. Shepard struck the Caltrans truck from behind, the jury found that Caltrans failed to follow several safety guidelines listed within the Caltrans maintenance manuals,” Rubin stated in a press release. “Most notably, the Caltrans truck involved in the crash did not have rotating amber lights or any other identifying markings, and the truck was also too far out in the fast lane in front of the convoy, when it was supposed to be in a tighter formation.”
Those components contributed to the jury’s resolution to search out the transportation company 50% answerable for the crash, Rubin stated.